CLR James Library: Saved!


A few years ago, I posed a question about the efficacy of blogging and social media: “Can Blogging Effect Change?”  Even though the results were positive, I still had my doubts because many of the participants were, shall we say, biased?  Today, I've given up those doubts. 

Based on this event,  I now believe that blogging, as a part of the new social media, can bring about change, but there has to be a concerted effort by the stakeholders.

I just received this e-mail from the BEMA Network:

It was just over six weeks ago that BEMA launched the campaign to ensure that the CLR James Library in Dalston, Hackney retain the name when the library is relocated to a new £4.4 million development.

We knew we would get support – after all CLR James was a writer, historian and social activist who had an impact on every continent in the world. The fact that his name was being dropped with no consultation with the black community of Hackney or his widow was an outrage. Yet even we were overwhelmed by the amount of support we received via the petition, emails and phone calls. The support proved just how important it was that Hackney reaffirms its commitment to CLR James and the African Caribbean community in Hackney.

We were also very pleased with the support we got from the local press and radio that covered this story in great detail. The national and international press coverage we received also helped raise the profile of the campaign and brought pressure to bear on the council. Local residents, trade unionists and community groups also played their part.

After meeting with councillors and council officers last week we are pleased to announce that they have seen sense and are now committed to keeping the name of CLR James attached to the library when it relocates. They have also agreed to work with BEMA to create a permanent exhibition at the new library fitting of CLR’s memory. We will also be working with them to devise an annual event in celebration of CLR James and his legacy.

We once again would like to like to thank everyone that signed the petition and showed support. We shall keep everyone posted re
 developments – and if we need to at any stage will call on you for support again in this matter.

Thanks also to Margaret Busby OBE who provided the picture of her alongside CLR at his 80th birthday celebration reprinted here. If anyone else has pictures, writings or memories of CLR James that they want to share please get in touch by emailing us at: bemaadmin@hcvs.org.uk

Please see links below that give just a taste of the support the campaign has received.

* The petition - now signed by close to 3,000 people. Please read some of the heart-felt and heart-warming contributions that people made from around the world. The petition will be closed once Hackney Council has finished their consultation and issue a joint statement with BEMA re their intentions.
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/saveclrjameslibrary

* Our open letter to the council – signed by notables including Selma James, widow of CLR.http://www.globalwomenstrike.net/content/clr-james-librarylondon-open-letter-against-proposed-name-change

* Hackney Citizen – Comprehensive coverage of what the campaign was all about –
http://www.hackneycitizen.co.uk/2010/10/08/hackney-council-signals-u-turn-clr-james-library-row/

* Hackney Council’s statement via Hackney Hive - http://www.hackneyhive.co.uk/index/2010/10/library-to-keep-the-clr-james-name/

*Hackney Gazette – The local paper that gave support to the campaign - http://www.hackneygazette.co.uk/news/campaigners_succeed_in_saving_the_name_of_dalston_s_clr_james_library_1_676146 

* Dalston People – news outlet reports on Hackney Council apologising to CLR James’ widow.http://www.dalstonpeople.co.uk/groups/developingdalston/Hackney-Council-responds-CLR-James-Library/story-10003437-detail/story.html

* The campaign even made Trinidadian TV - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpMgRzr6fSk

* Community coalition Hackney Unites (BEMA are co-founders) – show support for CLR -http://www.hackneyunites.org.uk/2010/09/save-name-of-clr-james-library.html

* Local MP and BEMA patron Diane Abbott shows support for the campaign www.dianeabbott.org.uk/news/press/news.aspx?p=102631 

* On line support from local news source East London Lines
http://www.dalstonpeople.co.uk/groups/developingdalston/Hackney-Council-responds-CLR-James-Library/story-10003437-detail/story.html
Congratulations to all!

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